PRO-LIFE BASICS: What is abortion?

When we speak or write about abortion today, we have to be extremely careful with the words we use, starting of course with that deadly word itself. Clearly abortion is no longer controversial, and the death peddlers have done a very good job of deceiving the uninformed. So what exactly is abortion?

Abortion is an act of murder. Thus, we should never refer to it as we would a surgery, which is “performed.” It is not a medical procedure intended to preserve life; abortion always takes at least one human being’s life. 

There are three types of abortion:

ONE: Surgical abortion is the killing, dismemberment, and removal of a baby via suction, medical instruments, injection, or other surgical procedure. Methods of surgical abortion include suction, dilation and curettage, dilation and evacuation, dilation and extraction (also known as D&X or partial-birth abortion), saline injections, and hysterotomy. The method used is determined by the age of the baby.

TWO: Chemical abortion is the chemical killing of a baby, either before or after he implants in his mother’s womb. Preimplantation chemical abortion can be caused by hormonal birth control drugs and devices, while postimplantation chemical abortion is primarily caused by the abortion pill regimen. This two-pill regimen (formerly called RU-486) combines mifepristone and misoprostol to kill and then expel the dead baby. 

THREE: Laboratory abortion is the destruction of human embryos through embryonic stem cell research and the discarding of “defective” and “unwanted” embryos by in vitro fertilization facilities.

These types of abortion could be called stealth practices because after nearly 50 years far too many people don’t think twice about the practice or about the result. As John C. Willke, MD, the grandfather of the pro-life movement, once wrote:

“Since when does anyone’s right to live depend upon someone else wanting them? Killing the unwanted is a monstrous evil. . . . So should a woman have the right to choose? I have a right to free speech, but not to shout “fire” in a theater. A person’s right to anything stops when it injures or kills another living human. . . . The pivotal question is, should any civilized nation give to one citizen that absolute right to kill another to solve that first person’s personal problem?”

Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson once presented this challenge in a different but equally passionate way, telling an audience:

“Our revolution will not depend upon the weapons of war, as other revolutions have done. Without using killing weapons, we are going to try to stop the killing. Without using the kind of harsh or mean language that they use, we are going to try to stop the perilous unconcern for the feelings of people. We are going to try to overturn the kind of selfishness that is becoming rampant through our land. And our Right to Life revolution will be different from any revolution that the world has ever seen or ever known. In the revolutions of the past, the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the revolution that brought communism to mainland China, it was necessary to destroy human affection. When the orders go out to the revolutionaries, for example, they must be carried out without question, even if it meant rising against a member of one’s own family.”2

The dire situation that Doctors Willke and Jefferson were so passionate about still produces grave injustices. Cardinal John O’Connor understood this, writing, “Some people argue that changing laws will not eliminate abortions. It is certainly true that a change of heart is more important than a change of law. What is forgotten, however, is that the law is the great teacher. Children grow up believing that if a practice is legal, it must be moral.”3 

And there lies the crux of the problem. The law protects what can honestly be described as decriminalized murder. Abortion is not a debate topic, nor is it a subject on a high school biology test. It is a demonic act and one so heinous that it blows the mind of the sane person who understands that babies are to be welcomed and loved not killed.

Yet one of the most common arguments that we hear is that abortion must be legal because of rape, incest, and threats to the life of the mother. To this we say that murder will not resolve the violation of a female by a male attacker; it actually violates her again. In no other situation is a child legally killed for the sins of his father. Further, when faced with a traumatic situation, a doctor treating a pregnant mother should always try to save both the mom and the baby. It is never necessary to intentionally kill the baby to save the mother. 

Every single act of abortion—whether in a test tube, at his natural creation, or in the womb—is an act of terror. A human being dies as our nation looks on, and that is why we need people like you who have chosen to stand up and fight this injustice head on.

Teach, preach, act, and pray that the travesty of abortion will end.

1. “Scriptures and Famous Quotations,” Wisconsin Right to Life, Accessed September 24, 2023, wisconsinrighttolife.org/scripture-famous-quotations.

2. “Mildred Jefferson Addresses the National Right to Life Conference,” Harvard Radcliffe Institute, October 21, 2020, radcliffe.harvard.edu/news-and-ideas/mildred-jefferson-addresses-the-national-right-to-life-conference.

3. “Pro-Life Quotes,” Churches of St. Paul and St. Michael, Accessed September 24, 2023, stpaulstmichael.com/copy-of-prayers-reflections.

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About the author

Judie Brown

Judie Brown is president of American Life League and served 15 years as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.